Definition of Copt in US English:



  • 1A native Egyptian in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

    • ‘When Muslim armies invaded Egypt, they were welcomed by the Egyptian Copts as liberators from Byzantine oppression.’
    • ‘Outnumbered by the native Copts, they settled just north of the Christian town, within the area of modern Cairo, and dreamed of building a new Islamic city.’
    • ‘Moreover, ethnically differentiated people have been lumped together, for example, the Copts and the Berbers are not ethnically the same people.’
  • 2A member of the Coptic Church.

    • ‘The Christian Copts, who are said to be pure representatives of the ancient Egyptians, claim them as their own.’
    • ‘The Copts, an indigenous Monophysite Christian church, are the largest and most important minority, some 12% of the population.’
    • ‘On the eve of both Christmas day and Easter day, Orthodox Copts break their fast with a variety of dishes made of beef and poultry.’
    • ‘It is easier now than in the past to obtain permission to build churches, Coptic Christmas has become a national holiday and Copts hold a number of cabinet-level portfolios.’
    • ‘Recently, Copts have introduced English into their church services (usually in sermons) to maintain the participation of new generations of American-born Egyptians.’
    • ‘It is not strong among some Christian groups like Egypt's Copts, and among certain educated elite.’
    • ‘Aswan was once an important centre for Christian Copts.’
    • ‘For all these reasons, more than 500,000 Copts are estimated to have left Egypt for the West in the past decade.’


From French Copte or modern Latin Coptus, from Arabic al-qibṭ, al-qubṭ ‘Copts’, from Coptic Gyptios, from Greek Aiguptios ‘Egyptian’.